Jewellery in the Prehistoric Aegean
|Already from the Early Bronze Age metal jewellery dominated. Not only is metal a more valuable material than stone or bone, it can also be formed into a greater variety of shapes and designs. In this period, moreover, the influence of the East is obvious in the Aegean region, especially in the sphere of metalworking. The jewellery of the islands and Crete displays similarities to corresponding pieces from Syria and Mesopotamia, even though a pronounced local element is manifest, bespeaking the inspiration and ideas of indigenous craftsmen.|
In the Cyclades silver and bronze ornaments, such as diadems, bracelets
and pins, prevailed. Outstanding is a large silver diadem from Chalandriani on
Syros, decorated in repousse with a scene of a deity, sun-discs and animals.
Numerous other pieces of jewellery, mainly necklaces, were made of less precious materials, such as bone, shell, semi-precious and ordinary stones.
Rich and notable assemblages of Early Bronze Age jewellery have been discovered in the northeast Aegean. Famous are the gold ornaments from Poliochni on Lemnos in a variety of shapes - earrings (fig.1), hair ornaments, necklaces, pins, bracelets - which display remarkable affinity to the contemporary gold jewellery in the 'treasures' of Troy.
|Fig. 6 Silver pin with gold head in the shape of a female figure supporting papyrous branches in her outstretched arms. From Shaft Grave III of Grave Circle A at Mycenae. (Athens, National Archaeological Museum, 75). Second half of 16th century BC.|
Both assemblages, from Poliochni and from Troy, are impressive not only by virtue of the costly material but also of the complex designs and advanced techniques. Notable jewellery of this period is known too from Western Greece, specifically Leukas where gold necklaces and earrings, as well as silver bracelets, have been found (figs 2-3).
Relatively little Early Bronze Age jewellery is known from mainland Greece. Gold and silver earrings, pendants, pins and fragments of headbands were recovered from the Early Helladic settlement at Zygouries, in the Corinthia. The so-called 'Thyreatis treasure', a cache of gold jewellery from Thyreatis in Kynouria, is also dated to this period.
During the Early Bronze Age exquisite jewellery was wrought in Crete, mainly from gold. Renowned are the gold ornaments from communal tombs at Mochlos, which are dated to the Early Minoan II period, around the middle of the third millennium BC. Outstanding among these are sheet-gold diadems with repousse decoration, fine chains of gold wire, elegant pins for adorning the hair, pendants and beads in various shapes. Other gold jewellery was found in the tombs of the Mesara region, the contents of which, like the tombs at Archanes, included pendants of ivory and bone.
|Fig. 7 Gold discs with repousse decoration from Shaft Grave III of Grave Circle A at Mycenae. (Athens, National Archaeological Museum, 18, 14, 4). Second half of 16th century BC.|